Forums | Mahara Community

Pedagogy /
Teaching and Learning With Mahara


anonymous profile picture
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Posts: 7

23 December 2010, 7:23

Hello all, I hope this strand might serve as a "next iteration" to Nigel's original Mahara and Schools topic, which is now a bit old.  I would like to help re-invigorate and start building a community here that can exhibit exemplary work using Mahara.  How we choose to integrate Mahara as a cloud learning environment (ePortfolio|Social Network|wiki|more) and in support of our learning ecologies (connectivist networking, mobile learning, experiencial and adventure education or "classroom" learning) rather than an "add on" SSO to other systems is a passion of mine, my projects, and my research.

So to that end, how are you using Mahara in your teaching and learning?  What do you see as Mahara's potential as a stand alone environment? What are your experiences with Mahara facilitation and k-12 (16) user groups?

anonymous profile picture
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Posts: 52

17 January 2011, 13:52

Thomas:
       I have no idea who's doing "self-hosted" social networking and ePortfolio systems in K-12 in the US, but I'm definitely one. We're a district of about 36,000 students and 56 schools. For reasons of simplicity and security, our system is not open to direct login, but is SSO from our Moodle LMS. That LMS is heavily used as a supplementay resource in support of traditional classroom instruction, with well over 20,000 registered users and 1,500+ course shells.
       At the moment, there are about 4,000 registered users in our Mahara install. We have one, with a possible 2nd, high school using it as their exclusive student writing portfolio platform, but the heaviest users in terms of regular access and content contribution are elementary students. The platform, for them, is strictly online writing and social networking.  A couple of schools are using it to teach appropriate use of social networking tools.
       The use patterns and challenges have been interesting for these age groups. Policing Mahara from a PK-12 perspective is pretty difficult (reporting and admin controls are pretty sketchy), but our teachers have an expectation, so we're on it.
       I'm also wondering what the future of our install will be, with everybody else pushing out to the cloud. Our state is technically part of the Live@EDU Microsoft umbrella (our email addresses are hosted there, and so the other tools are available as well). But so far, most teachers much prefer a locally-hosted and branded solution.
       I do hope this is helpful. I really am curious if others out there are trying what I am trying.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4770

18 January 2011, 15:07

Hello Jeffrey and Thomas,

Thank you for giving an old thread new life, Thomas. I hope very much that more and more will share their experiences. If you want to have you Mahara initiatives displayed on the frontpage in the screenshot turntable, please let me know, and I'll add you.

Jeffrey: You write that it is elementary school students who use Mahara most in your school district. Would it be possible that you gave a bit more information? Here in New Zealand we have MyPortfolio, a hosted Mahara supported by the Ministry of Education for every school student and teacher to use for free.

Primaries here are reluctant to take up Mahara because they fear their kids can't use Mahara, it is too complicated and not appealing to them. In which grade levels do you use Mahara with elementary students? Do you, for example, already use it with 5-year olds like the Oyster River School District?

Did you already experiment with Gregor's WindowsLive plugin for Mahara? Does it also work with Live@EDU like his plugin for Google Apps also works with Google Apps for Education?

Cheers

Kristina

anonymous profile picture
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06 February 2011, 19:46

Just looking back at these posts.  Kristina, it would be helpful for others to see the use case for ORSD in some way (if they are willing to share past the MLE group).  Some good work here on what ePortfolio's and ePortfolio assessment are all about.  So much of Mahara's appeal is that it offers larger groups a scalable and sophisticated platform for ePortfolio's and so much more.  "What to do with Mahara, has much to do with understanding authentic assessment and integrative praxis. ORSD's school culture enables innovative platforms like Mahara, and they are livining there mission! 

anonymous profile picture
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Posts: 31

06 February 2011, 21:02

I agree, Thomas. I have just been talking with my team about where/how this could happen, as I would like to see more NZ schools participate in these discussions.

Kristina, any ideas?

Paul.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4770

07 February 2011, 1:56

Hello Thomas and Paul,

Beyond the email on the MLE list and the video at http://plymouth.edu/online/events/nhfocus_2010.html (Thanks Ellen for sharing the link) I don't know anything of the portfolio use at the Oyster River Elementary School.

We could ask Danielle if she would like to present in a webinar (short presentation, long Q&A session). There were a lot of questions after her presentation that gave good insight into their work with Mahara.

We would just have to find a time that works for basically the entire world as we would have to see that the times are acceptable to the US, Europe and NZ where most active community members seem to be. If we get Asia in that would be great.

Cheers

Kristina

anonymous profile picture
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Posts: 52

06 February 2011, 23:05

Kristina:
       I'm a little behind on this thread, and wish I had the time to follow all the linked examples below. As I embark on a possible doctoral dissertation topic using Mahara, I'll be very curious! So much Web 2.0, so little time...*sigh*...
       Let me cover a bit of what you've asked...
Your "MyPortfolio" system
       Our state (KY/USA) has a state-supplied "Individual Learning Plan" system for all students in the state. It does not include much support of portfolios, has no social networking component, and is almost universally ignored in our schools. That, and integration with Moodle, are why I installed Mahara for our school district (one of 175 districts in our state, but the 2nd largest). I would love to see it adopted as the district's official ILP and portfolio platform, but there are some political barriers. (Thankfully, very few technical ones!)
       As I mentioned, right now, some high school students (about 15% of those in our district) are using it as a portfoloio system, and almost nothing else. Elementary students (probably about 5-10% of the district's) are using it as a connected learning and social networking platform (with some attention to teaching Internet safety). These students are generally 8-11 years old. Our experience is that this age group need almost no training -- Mahara is very intuitive for them, they think it's easy. Very few teacher here are doing anything interactive and online with students younger than that.
Windows Live Plugin:
       This is a can of worms here. I would LOVE to start playing with this, but most teachers and principals are VERY reluctant to open kids up to the wide-open world of Live, since there are no organizational controls available. Our Mahoodle install is closed, and viewed as safe and controllable. Parents here are very fearful of Facebook and its ilk, and they view a district-controlled and closed system as the only social networking optoin they'll approve their kids to use.
       Of course, for just adults, this is less controversial, and I suspect we'll play with it for them. Teachers and other district professionals are starting to use Mahara for learning communities (which is VERY exciting!), but we also have a SharePoint install, and it does an excellent job of integrating with Office tools.
       Once again, so much Web 2.0, so little time.

       I do hope this helps.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 4770

07 February 2011, 2:10

Hello Jeffrey,

Thank you for your reply. I keep my fingers crossed that your PhD topic about Mahara works out / is accepted. I'd love to hear more about it and see if I can help you if possible.

Regarding the Windows Live Plugin: Maybe it could be modified in such a way that it is only available to teachers so that only they see the block icon and can drag it into their portfolio views. Teachers can have institution staff rights on Mahara. You could ask Gregor, the plugin developer, what he thinks.

For the NZ site MyPortfolio, a hosted Mahara for NZ Schools, we have recently done a number of customisations that are almost entirely theme- and role-based. E.g. when you have the institution staff role, you see two different modes: One the regular MyPortfolio mode and the other an online moderation mode which has an entirely different theme, different default settings etc. It is like having two different Mahara installations rolled together in one. It was not trivial to do and we are not yet done with all the things we want to implement in the moderation mode, but the coming changes will most likely be more development oriented to expand the functionality and make existing things even more user friendly. We are in early stages in this project - schools are currently selected to participate in the trial, but it's already been exiting to see the changes. And a number of them have already made they way into Mahara 1.4, e.g. Shared Pages and Topics in the Group tab, the re-organization of the tabs and content in them, new / unified icons, cleaning up of code to make theming easier etc.

Cheers

Kristina

26 January 2011, 20:46

Hi Jeffrey and Thomas,

There are several K-12 school districts in NH that are Moodle/Mahara schools.  In fact, the Mahara/Moodle View plugin was funded by the New Hampshire Dept of Education and 5 school districts from the state.  We have a state-wide collaboration that meets about twice a year and includes both K-12 and Higher Ed.  I will be meeting with them in a few weeks to develop templates.  My University is  a self-hosted Moodle/Mahara school--there are actually a number of us out there. My previous institution (a small private college) was also a Moodle/Mahara school.

In October my University (Plymouth State) hosted a K-20 Focus on ePortfolio Day for the State.  It was well attended and everyone left quite enthusiastic about working together.  I work with a number of schools outside of my University--sharing information on Mahara.  I'm also hoping to hold a Mahara Hack Fest sometime in late spring or early summer.

If you are anywhere near us, we'd love to have you join us.

Ellen

anonymous profile picture
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Posts: 7

27 January 2011, 9:12

Hi Ellen,

I'm interested in knowing more.  Can you share some sites/views of creative uses you are seeing/a part of?  Particularly, i'm interested in how Mahara is used in blended learning environments K-12(-20), and  in support of mLearning, ePortfolio assessment, and integrated currriculum.  I am also very interested in hearing how people are using Mahara in student centric VLE's in cobination with other web 2.0 and connectivist driven spaces without traditional LMS structures like Moodle. 

I'm in Maine and would be intersted in knowing more. 

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